“All persons, irrespective of sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity, are entitled to enjoy in Antigua & Barbuda the protections provided for by our constitution and by international human rights law,” according to an official statement issued here.
The statement, titled ‘Policy on Protection from violence and discrimination of persons of the LGBTI community,’ further notes that “Antigua & Barbuda does not tolerate any acts of violence or discrimination against members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community, and maintains their right to protection under local law and international law.
“The government of Antigua and Barbuda upholds the core legal obligations of states with respect to protecting the human rights of LGBTI people.”
Information Minister Melford Nicholas, speaking to reporters at the end of the weekly Cabinet meeting on Thursday, said that the Gaston Browne Administration has taken the initiative to counter the comments made by Canada-based LGBTI activist Tasheka Lavann.
In an interview with the US-based Huffington Post, Antigua and Barbudan-born Lavann, who identified herself as a lesbian, said she feared violence as a member of the LGBTI community.
But while she later retracted the statement, saying they had been taken out of context, there has been a growing call for the government to respond to the allegations.
“We do not want to wait until there is such a development,” Nicholas told reporters, after indicating that St John’s was not willing to wait to hear from Canada first on the issue before taking action.
“If it is given currency, and by the State refusing to indicate what indeed is its position then we run the risk of something then happening and then we have to undo it,” he said, adding,
He said when such incidents do occur, the LGBTI community has recourse to the law just as any ordinary citizen.
“The laws of the State are sufficient to protect, and should it be brought to the attention of the authorities, including the Cabinet, that there is any degree of prejudice towards any particular one…we would certainly would like to be made aware of it.
“This Government and all preceding governments have pretty much adhered to the process of law,” he said, noting